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Mental Disability & the Law (LAW-795S-001)
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This two-credit upper-level seminar will focus on current civil and criminal issues impacting the rights of individuals with mental disabilities, particularly psychosocial disabilities (e.g., schizophrenia, depression, etc). In the civil context, we will examine: involuntary civil commitment law, the right to obtain and refuse treatment within institutions, the right to sexual interaction within institutions, the right to receive care in the community, and the right to be free of discrimination. In the criminal context, we will examine: the historical roots and standards of criminal competency to stand trial and the insanity defense, as well as the criminal trial process for individuals with mental disabilities, including self-incrimination, confessions, and the death penalty.
Throughout the semester, we will use social science resources to contemplate influences beyond the law, such as cultural and sociopolitical forces, on the well-being of individuals with mental disabilities and to test lawmakers’ assumptions. In addition, a memoir about living with schizophrenia will inform our discussions and provide material for in-class simulations throughout the semester, so that our analysis of the law is never divorced from the experiences of the people it impacts.
Textbooks and Other Materials
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First Class Readings
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